Category Archives: Ibiza ’89

Ibiza ’89

Lisa Loud turns up the volume

Lisa Loud turns up the volume

No-one messes with Lisa Loud. Under her original name, Lisa McKay, she was an early traveller to Ibiza thanks to cheap flights from a dad who worked for British Airways and an older sister, Joanne, who was friends with Nancy ‘Noise’ Turner. These Walworth Road girls were the magic connectors between Ibiza, Trevor Fung, Ian St Paul and the notorious Ibiza quartet (Oakenfold, Holloway, Walker and Rampling). Not shy at coming forward, within a few years Lisa was internationally known as a DJ and running her enormously successful dance promotions business Loud & Clear. Those early experiences have never left her and you can hear it in her ebullient stories and passion for the rave.

Interviewed by Bill in London 15.10.21

What year did you first go to Ibiza?
1985 was the first year.

How long did you go for?
I was in and out of Ibiza. My story’s a slightly blessed one. My father worked for British Airways, and my sister Jo who’s three years older than me, she was a real party girl and traveler. The fact that I was a few years younger, I kind of got a pass from mum and dad because I wasn’t on my own. So, I experienced a lot of things at a very young age. So, my first years in Ibiza, I was just a teenager. We recently found a book that we made for Joanne on her birthday with pictures of us all in Amnesia in 1987, and me dancing on the stage in Amnesia. So in ’85, I just went for a holiday and then I think it was ’86 when all the girls ended up staying out there.

Nancy told me that there were four of them including Joanne that went for the whole summer in ’86.
That was Jo, Michelle, Nancy and Max (we called her that because her real name was Claudia Bygraves). I managed to blag myself a job as some kind of financial consultant. I did really, really well at sales. I sold an account to the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. Everyone on the Walworth Road had one! I’d go on a weekend, because I was earning good money, and I’d leave work on a Friday, get on a flight on one of dad’s cheap-as-chips flights for British Airways staff, get over there, go mad all weekend, and then get back by Monday morning and go on appointments with my clients, selling more savings accounts. It was pretty mental.

What was really funny though, is I had a cool boss. Her name was Sally. She was super cool, gorgeous, and had a really funky boyfriend and all that. I ended up talking about Ibiza one day, and she was like, ‘Oh, we go to Ibiza all the time’. Anyway, in 1987 I went out there and saw Sally. That was the only year that Glory’s was open, so we all used to go to Amnesia, and then Glory’s. So it would be like morning-time, and they had a big swing in there and you’d get coffee and croissants that no one was interested in. Anyway, I was swinging on this swing and I saw my boss, Sally, and I was like, ‘Sally!’ I don’t know whether that was the right thing to do or not, especially because that was the year that I stayed out there and didn’t go back. So, yeah. That was my reckless year!

What was it about Amnesia that was so attractive and amazing?
Well, aside the fact that Alfredo was the most incredible playlist maker, we all hung around together, like all of us Walworth Road girls. Nancy actually had a real music business connection, because her dad was managing Nik Kershaw. But we was all kind of born and bred on going to concerts, do you know what I mean? So 20 of us would go to see The Cure or  Bowie. Plus, we were all into dancing and being out and culture and stuff and I think that what you got with Alfredo was there was no sort of genre-specific style going on with his sets. He’d play ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ by U2, then he’d play Mr. Fingers’ ‘Can You Feel It’, then he’d play the Beastie Boys. And it was just this mental musical eclecticism that I was really drawn to.

When I first heard ‘Jibaro’ by Elkin & Nelson, I was like, ‘What is that?’ I was like that Nikki off of Big Brother, ‘What is that?’. It was so Balearic. Mind you, I didn’t even know what Balearic meant. We were teenagers. It was just good music, a selection of everything. You’d hear the Gipsy Kings as well, which was something that you’d remember hearing in Benidorm on your family holiday played by a cheesy guy with the ruffled shirt. 

But I think what you got in Amnesia that you got nowhere else was the people. This colourful selection of the most amazing people. We met all the northern boys there who were like the naughty northern boys who were on Inter-rail and you’d always think, ‘What do they actually do?’ They’d be everywhere at every party. I’m talking worldwide. We’d go and meet them in Amsterdam, then meet them again in Thailand. They were everywhere. And then we had all these Italian mates. They were all like the cool, slick cruising up the beach in San Antonio on their motorbikes and parking them right outside Cafe del Mar with all their hair slicked back, and the high-waisted denim with all the holes in it, and the leather jackets. Then there’d be the nutty French kind of proper gay guys in Lycra. Lycra everywhere, the tightest Lycra, like they were permanently going on a bike ride. But with more madness, like luminous colours and all that. And then there’s a couple of things that I would never, ever forget about Amnesia. There was the girl with the cake on her head. 

What, an actual cake?
No, it wasn’t. Like a wedding dress and the wedding cake hat on her head. I was on the raised level, so opposite the pyramids, and then Alfredo would be over there, and Papa Nino would always be on the pyramid dancing. Nino was very spiritual, he read cards and palms, and looked like an electric current was running through him. Anyway, I was dancing, I’m looking at the movement of this thing going through the crowd, and it was basically someone with a swimming hat with Barbie dolls stuck on the hat by their heads, with all their legs everywhere. You weren’t seeing that in San Antonio, do you know what I mean? Pacha was notoriously glamorous in sort of evening wear. Ku was big, not as intimate as Amnesia, and was a bit more housey. You know, Cesar and Pippi; so a bit more of that Italian vibe. But Amnesia, for me, it was just this mix. Everyone went to everywhere else, but it all seemed to feel like it started in Amnesia, that look, that collection of personalities and colour. And it just seemed to really fit the music, because it was never one way or the other. It was completely all over the place.

Was it the same every night? Because Nancy said she was going every night. 
Yeah, pretty much. I mean, you did see them all again and again and again. Obviously we never slept, but you’d always be like, ‘When does anyone sleep?’ You’d just all meet back for the Cafe Del Mar sunset, and there’d be very little downtime going on in between that and Amnesia. Nicky Holloway had bars in the early days in Ibiza Town. Then you’d go to Amnesia, and that would be some kind of mission getting in, because you’d never have any money. And in the end, you all end up handing out flyers for Alfredo just to be able to get into Amnesia. We’d bunk over walls and all sorts to get in there, you know?

How did you survive without any money? I mean, what the hell did you do?
Well, I was earning all this money in this thing, but I went and got a job in the music business. My first job was Virgin Records, so I promoted Soul II Soul, Massive Attack, Neneh Cherry, Inner City. I did all of the promo for all of the bands and these really iconic albums. That was ’87 to ’91, and then ’91, I set up Loud And Clear, which was me mailing out my own records, and that was when I did all the Leftfields and the Underworlds and all of the underground independent labels, like Guerilla, Junior Boy’s Own, Tomato, Cowboy etc. I always worked, apart from that summer where I just saw my boss and never went back to England.
Alfredo, Ibiza’s grand conductor

What about Trevor Fung? Because him and Ian St. Paul had some kind of bar in ’87, didn’t they?
Yeah, the Project in Ibiza Town.

Tell me a bit about that.
I think what you probably got out of the Project Bar that wasn’t necessarily what was going on in the clubs in Ibiza was the UK DJs. So, Trevor would play, Nicky Holloway would play, Oakey would play. Because in those really, really early days, none of those DJs were playing in the big clubs or anything. It was all the Spanish and Italian DJs. The Project was the start of your night. What you always saw in Ibiza, even right way back then, was the parades. Project was right on the strip where it would always go by. It was a meeting place for all of us a lot of the time. They had tickets and things like that. It was like part of the culture of how it all gets ticking at the beginning of the night, really. I suppose that’s the best way to describe it. They’d have tickets for Amnesia or Ku or this or that, you know? And now and again, you’d see those Spanish DJs in there having a drink. They all felt so important. They did to me, anyway. I was a bit shy around them, really. Felt like they were a really big deal, you know?

Was that the first time you kind of had a sense of the importance of a DJ?
No, not really. I mean, we’ve always gone out drinking to people playing music, so for us lot, we were always going out to see Nicky Holloway DJ in a pub in the Old Kent Road, or Steve Walsh DJing in the Lyceum, or Chris Hill DJing at Pwelhi Prestatyn on the weekends away.

Did you do ecstasy for the first time when you were in Ibiza?
Yeah. I mean, I wouldn’t be talking like this if my mum and dad were still here. I really wouldn’t. But yeah, it really did float my boat. I’m a high vibration girl anyway, do you know what I mean? Just dance and dance and dance and dance. It just really, really suited my personality. But probably Amnesia. I mean, it would’ve been at Amnesia, because that was the only place for us.

Can you actually remember doing it for the first time?
I’ve got some very vivid memories of my first relationship with ecstasy, yeah, including getting stuck in Amsterdam because we’d all go and meet in Amsterdam sort of April time as well. Yeah, I’ve got very vivid memories of how fucking brilliant it was. Just this association to the music that made everything sound incredible. Kind of kaleidoscopically, everything was brighter. Everyone was friendly. Everyone was smiling. The need to dance. Feeling really, really light and lifted, you know? Just completely and utterly lifted. I don’t have to take it to get off on music at all, but it was a great way to feel something different to playing a track at home and being in amongst that euphoria and the hedonism. But there’s obviously a dark side that comes with drugs…

What do you think it was about you that helped you succeed as a DJ when so many other women didn’t?
I think that ultimately in the very early stages, there was so few of us. I mean, you could literally count on one hand.

You could name them all, couldn’t you?
I was actually someone that was going out and buying records constantly. For me, the technical side of DJing really turned me on. I always sort of thought, ‘Oh, this mixing thing is amazing’. I wasn’t a playlist DJ. I was really into nuts and bolts of how it worked, and mixing records not just from beats, you know? Things that Oakey taught me, those things about how you actually mix music, and the different stages in a record where music becomes more prevalent, the intros and outros and things like that. That really appealed to me. And more and more, because I was in this scene that was erupting, I was watching people doing it, and you could really hear it. So there was no better learning curve, if you like, than being in Sunrise with 25,000 people in an illegal rave playing in a big top with two boxes of records that have been donated to me by Paul Oakenfold, playing alongside Carl Cox and seeing it really happen.

There was very, very few of us. I think that I was in an incredibly fortunate time, hanging out in Ibiza in the late ’80s and then meeting people like Oakey and Carl Cox and people like that who were completely accessible to you. I mean, I used to go and sit in their houses with them just playing tunes.

Lisa at Future,1988, photo Dave Swindells

What’s the worst thing that’s happened to you as a woman DJ?
This is going to sound very non-controversial, but I think that I have been incredibly blessed because of my career when it started and the fact that I had this music business career running alongside me being a DJ. I was taken very seriously because I was the one that was dropping all the cool records on the decks. When I was promoting music, I was up and down the country, not only as a DJ, but as a record promoter. So I was bringing acetates of Inner City’s ‘Big Fun’ to the Haçienda for Mike Pickering and Graeme Park. 

However, there were times when it looked like there were people that would just wait for me to mess up. For example, when I went out to Rimini and I DJed for Charlie Chester on the Flying trip in the early 1990s, I was the only girl amongst 10 to 15 DJs. And when I went on the decks, put my two record boxes up there, and suddenly I looked up and there was just a wall of Italian men. It looked like the lighting guys and security, every DJ in the house, the promoters, the owners were just standing there as a wall. Now, I don’t think they were looking at my cute little ass. I think they were like, ‘Right, okay, can this girl actually spin records?’ Because I didn’t have a music profile or anything. To my astonishment, I actually pulled it off and built a career in Italy with a promoter there called Barbara. She ended up being like the main girl doing everything in Ethos Mama and Echoes and Peter Pan, and all of those really cool, big Italian clubs. And I ended up touring with her and did monthly sets in Italy for five or six years, until she went on and did something different. But there was definitely an air about that vision for me that was like, you really don’t have faith in me. You don’t think I’m going to do this. You don’t think I’m going to crack this. It was pretty intimidating.

Did you feel that you had to work doubly hard to prove yourself as a female DJ?
Do you know what? I actually feel that more now.

Why is that?
What I feel is whilst there is great new talent coming through, and you’re watching as if it’s like a seed that you planted. You’re watching that grow, which I think that’s all great. But I think that it is still a man’s world. There are still a few of us. I mean, obviously Nina Kraviz is absolutely massive. Honey Dijon, I just love watching her career. It’s so inspiring. It’s so wicked. But as much as I celebrate all of that, I’m now 30+ years in the game. I’m in my fourth decade of being a DJ, and as much as I will always deliver on the decks, I don’t feel like there’s as many of us. So I’ll always say to promoters, ‘Have you heard such and such?’ Like Clockwork Orange, who I always DJ for. They put something up on their site the other day saying, ‘What DJ would you love to see?’ And a lot of the Clockwork goers are still saying the same names. Thankfully I appeared, which means that I’ve still got some clout. But I put Honey Dijon, because you’ve never seen her at a Clockwork. It’s still a very tough industry. And I’d love to do more to change that, but I’ve now got a child and I’m 52 years old. I don’t have the same energy as I used to have. was talking to Carl Loben, actually, and he was saying, ‘I want to do a big feature in DJ Magazine about the sexism and stuff like that.’ And I said, ‘It’s really hard, because you want that to be about me when I first started, and I didn’t really experience it when I first started.’

Do you not think that’s kind of partly down to just who you are as a person? I’ve known you a long time and you were always very kind of take-no-shit.
Yeah. I definitely tried to deliver an attitude when I was younger that I was not to be fucked with, because I felt like I was in a very fortunate position, and I didn’t want anyone to take it away from me. I was in this wicked job barely out of my teens, working for the biggest British music mogul that I’ve looked up to all my life, Richard Branson, promoting records that I was playing as a DJ, going, ‘Oh my God, I’m living the dream’. But I was also a record promoter, so I had to be on people’s cases. I had to be going, ‘Get that in your chart’, and stuff like that, or else… 

Yeah, I remember it well!
I was hardcore.

I’ve really noticed over the last five years there’s just so many more women DJs now. What do you think has changed? Do you think that MeToo movement has had an effect on dance music? 
Well, I think that now, we’re actually getting to a point where across all of the media angles, so radio, press, there are powerful females involved in making things happen and trying to work very hard to assure that voices are heard. Like the Lady of the House book that I feature in, which is 150 stories of women in dance music. It’s just about to be published. More of a coffee table book, but you can see just by that and what it is, how it looks, that there’s a seriousness about it. Now, there’s Jaguar on Radio 1, Sarah Story on Radio 1. All of those kind of avenues didn’t really ever have girls presenting as well, you know? A girl would be your Zoe Ball on a daytime radio show. I mean, Lottie did some stuff with Radio 1 for a bit, didn’t she? And that was great because it was like proper, dirty house music by a flippin’ lovely, brilliant girl who’s a wicked DJ, being able to speak through her music on one of the biggest channels that was broadcasting.

What’s the difference in the thrill of playing an illegal party rather than a club one?
I just think everything about Sunrise and Biology; it was the getting there where you don’t really know where you’re going. It was all about picking up messages, communicating with people. The whole thing about phone numbers, it was a reality. It did happen. That was the real deal. That’s how you found out about those things. That alone was incredibly exciting. Then you’d get to somewhere and it wouldn’t be started yet, because nothing ever goes the way you think it does. You get there and half of the big top would be on the floor. Trucks would be rocking up with the sound system in it. And then you’d wait and watch this magic happening, and happening on a scale that was like, how did that go from watching a half of the big top on the floor to 20,000 people, lights, rigs, music, banging sound systems, car jams … It’s just all of it. It’s like, whoah!

That’s what Paul [Oakenfold] and Ian [St Paul] did with Spectrum was as near to putting that into a club environment. In a way, I think that those raves were the precursor to what a festival is today. That was what we now call a festival. You know, how do you get fairground rights up the M25 and flippin’ big wheels and big tops and 25,000 people while no one knows about it? The councils don’t know about it. The Old Bill don’t know about it. And then suddenly it’s like when the Old Bill do find out, there’s no health and safety, oh my God, death pits, really. But it’s all that. It’s all that, the magic of watching something built from the ground up, I think, and the fact that being at those things, you definitely knew that you were going to experience something that you weren’t experiencing anywhere else.

What’s your most outlaw DJ moment?
A police escort back to Moscow Airport. I was one of the first DJs to go to Russia. I DJed at a club called XIII that was in the very early ’90s. It was a club that was like oil tycoons kind of partying, and beautiful, beautiful, beautiful people, mega wealthy. The guy took all of his influence from Pacha in Ibiza. I used to DJ there about once a month, and then there was a festival called the Fort Dance Festival that was on a fort in the middle of the river, so you could only get there by boat, speedboat, yacht, whatever. And this guy bought this fort for the only period of 99 years to have a party on it. Like, that’s the sort of Russian kind of stuff that I experienced which is absolutely amazing. It was just amazing. Anyway, I was running late. So, I was police escorted to Moscow Airport to make sure that I got the flight. Little old me, eh? So that’s pretty bandit, yeah. 

Do you think DJs are natural outlaws? In the early years, it did feel like there was a lot of lawbreaking going on.
In the early days. I think these days, a male tech house DJ goes to the gym five times a week, he’s vegan, and drinks water on tour. Do you know what I mean? But yeah. I mean, we certainly paved the way for some hedonism, let’s put it that way. I think that it’s funny, because we’re all these years down the line and I don’t think any of us have changed much, do you know what I mean? Barry Ashworth is still stage diving off of festival stages to 12,000 people. I still can’t sleep. Dave Beer is still rocking anything he puts his golden touch to. And we’re certainly not sitting in the green room drinking water, you know?

Why do you think governments are scared of people coming together to dance?
Because they’re the sort of people that just don’t understand it, you know? They don’t understand the magic of it. They don’t understand that some people absolutely need this. I would put money on 99% of people that we all know getting through lockdown because of music. I don’t even know anyone that I’ve spoken to that hasn’t done something about their music within the lockdown. The Kitchen Disco came alive because we had to do something. If it’s in your bones, I don’t think you can live without it. But I just think that people in government, they’re a different breed, you know? 

Did you ever DJ on pirate radio?
No, actually, I didn’t. I was promoting a lot to pirate radio, like Kiss FM helped me break Soul II Soul, because notoriously, Radio 1, Capital Radio, they weren’t playing black music. They wouldn’t play dance music. It just wasn’t happening. So, all of my days at Virgin Records with Soul II Soul, Inner City and all that, I was banging that door down in West London like Fort Knox to get in there. There were pirate radio stations everywhere that I used to go to with the actual vinyl so that you’d get power play and stuff like that.

So you’re basically saying that pirates were actually key to breaking a lot of these acts at that time.
Absolutely. I was number one in all the dance charts with records that you were hearing everywhere, but how were you getting it out to the next lot of people that weren’t in the club? Inner City’s ‘Big Fun’ went in at number eight. Soul II Soul’s ‘Back To Life’ went straight in at number one. ‘Keep On Movin’’, number eight. We were having a lot of success. Massive Attack was different because there was a lot of visual aspects with the video and stuff like that that was much more sort of the marketing tools for Massive. Even Neneh to a degree was massive on Kiss. You know, ‘Buffalo Stance’. It was a huge aid to breaking records. Huge.

What’s the most extreme or offensive DJ diva behaviour you’ve come across?
It was on a Moby tour. I was warming up for Moby. Mind you, he wasn’t DJing. He was live, so no. He did smash the stage up, though, which was pretty extreme. He picked his keyboard up and started smashing it up, and I was like, right, okay, I’ve got to actually go on after that. It was pretty hectic. I was a bit scared, actually. I don’t know, let’s just say I don’t do princes and princesses. I just walk away. but you know what and I think it’s absolutely true, is that there’s a reason why people like us lot are still around is because despite the fact that we have had major success, we’ve had it all, we’ve lost it all, but we’ve remain humble and polite, because we were around at such a significant time. It all came from nothing. So, we’ve just managed to carve a career out of something that we really, really love.

Well yeah, at the time, very few people probably even thought you could make a living from this.
Oh, my mum constantly was like, ‘Would you please get a proper job?’ And I was like, ‘It is a proper job! It’s a job. I go to work and earn money’. 

Do you agree that a humble person makes a better DJ, more ready to connect with the dancefloor?
Yeah, 1000%. Because it’s not about you, is it? It’s about them. People have paid to come see you. People have paid their hard-earned money to go into that experience that you, if you’ve got any humility about you, are going to work your ass off to deliver for them, because that’s their release. That’s their night out. I think it’s about feeling the people that are in front of you, having a respect for those people. It’s not about you standing up there like some god. You’re only going to get that appreciation if you work really hard to deliver something that’s a great experience for those people. 

Also, when you go and see a band, they’re performing, and you’re consuming. Whereas with a dancefloor and a DJ, there’s a much more symbiotic relationship. You need each other in order for that evening to be a success.
Yeah, and you’re coming from a very like-minded plane right from the start. There are times when it’s absolutely magical. I did Manumission one day. It was like 10,000 people. They had to pull the stage even closer to shut more of the swimming pool because it was so rammed, and at one point, that whole crowd was up in the air. That’s magic. There was like a pulse where everybody was doing the same thing. Those things are magic, those feelings, those … Yeah, you have to land after some gigs, because they’re that good. You know? Which is a lovely thing to say, that I can do my work and I’m so high as a kite, not because of drugs, that it could take me as long to do the whole evening to land back down to earth, because it was so fantastic. I think that’s something that a DJ is privileged to experience.

One last question. Tell me about your relationship with Nancy, because you guys have been friends for an awful long time, and I guess you’re still friends now, aren’t you?
Oh my God, yeah, I love her. Well, I just love her. We didn’t all go to the same secondary schools, and I’m actually the same age as Nancy’s sister, Katie, and my sister and Nancy are the same age. So just that alone, we could be a four-people unit very, very easily, having great girly times and doing whatever. We were all into music. I just always loved Nancy. She was always with my sister, or my sister was with her. I was always with her sister. We did loads of it all together. I think traveling together at a very young age forms a very different bond than just going out on a night out to the pub, do you know what I mean? Traveling’s quite a big deal. See, that was what we had in our blood from dad being the British Airways connection. But it was always special, magical, those kind of things, and I think that they are standout moments of your life. Travel gives you a sense of something else that is not just within your everyday makeup. So I did lots of that with Nancy, which makes our relationship even more special. I admire her enormously as a music person. Her track selections, knowledge, everything. I love that laugh. I think she’s got one of the most beautiful faces in the show business. I just love her.

Do you think it kind of helped you two in the early days, having two girls that were not a team exactly, but you did a lot of things together?
I would like to think so, because I think it was such a nice vibe. And the whole thing of Lisa Loud and Nancy Noise. I mean, have you ever heard anything with a better ring to it? One’s blonde and one’s got dark hair, and we were different musically, so there was different attributes that we brought to the party each time which completely complemented each other, and we were mates. So, there was like a special relationship before you even got behind the decks. It was a whole night out, listening to me and Nancy. It was bloody good music. And I still think the Loud Noise thing [Lisa and Nancy playing together], I mean, my God, it’s still got legs. People out there constantly ask me, ‘When will you do it again? When will you do it again?’ I drive Nancy a little bit mad about it, because I am the one that’s like, ‘Come on, let’s do it!’ So hopefully, we will get together and we will do some really nice Loud Noise bits and pieces before our backs give out and we can’t walk anymore. That would be nice. I think we need to explore that. I think that perhaps next year, we should look at the old Loud Noise vibe, because it’s a nice one. It’s magical, and it’s got a nice following of great people.

© Bill Brewster & Frank Broughton

Ibiza ’89

Ibiza ’89

As acid house crossed over nationally in the UK and the tabloids started whipping up their manufactured outrage, Time Out Nightlife Editor Dave Swindells went to Ibiza with i-D writer Alix Sharkey to see where this culture had come from. They planned to reconnect the ‘Balearic beats’ that had kicked things off the previous year to the island of their birth. But their editor Don Atyeo told them to take a whole week and forget any preconceptions. He was a veteran reporter who had spent months in Zaire for the Rumble in the Jungle, getting to know Muhammad Ali, and he gave them the dream assignment – ‘Ask questions and let the story tell itself.’

Dave’s visual chronicle of that week in the sun has finally been packaged up into a glorious book, and while you’ve doubtless seen a couple of the more famous shots before – like the couple reflected in the Amnesia pyramid – seeing the full collection is brilliantly evocative. It’s like owning holiday snaps from a clubbing moment most of us missed out on. For the magazine (it was 20/20, Time Out‘s monthly lifestyle title), Dave concentrated on capturing a few dancefloor portraits and those all-important sunrise moments, picking out the incongruous mix of aristocratic Eurotrash and seasoned clubbers on the blag. Nightclub photography was a different game back then – the technology meant you needed an intrusive flash to catch any after-dark action. With a full book to expand into he’s been able to add all the contextual shots, showing the sleepy rural nature of ’80s Ibiza, giving us some great images of the epic club architecture, acres of fashion nostalgia, and a hint that Brits-abroad lager-boy lairiness was already in evidence.

1989 was the year before Ibizan authorities made the clubs build roofs over their dancefloors, so there’s a poignancy to the carefree partying. They were there for the opening of Amnesia, which figures large in the book – the club where Alfredo Fiorito’s playlist did so much to energise British music. Read the captions and you get a great idea of who was there – it’s a roll call of the more exploratory members of London nightlife. Alix Sharkey was very much a face about town and between him and Dave they could spot a London DJ or promoter at 20 paces. In fact the first person they encountered in Ibiza was Boy George, always an early adopter. Sharkey’s original piece is included and it’s a great scene-setter: scallies dancing with Italian princesses, labourers chatting up girls fresh from daddy’s yacht. There’s a nostalgic intro from Terry Farley, and Dave adds plenty of stories too. Blaggers rushing the door by getting on their hands and knees, ecstasy urchins shooting water pistols filled with liquid MDMA. All in all a wonderful time capsule. Frank Broughton

Es Paradis Ibiza, 1989
Ku, 6am in the rain, 1989
Ibiza 89 Amnesia Pete Heller (left in black T-shirt) and Portia Bishop greet the sunrise
Adamski and friends, Ku, Ibiza, 1989
Ibiza 89 Cafe DM The Sun on the beach (as read by ‘Spit’ Fenton and Megs Osler)

© Bill Brewster & Frank Broughton. All pics © Dave Swindells

Dave Swindells snapped it up

Dave Swindells snapped it up

His photos are famous – the defining record of the early acid house years. There’s Danny Rampling Christlike against a yellow sun at Shoom, the can’t-go-home crowd spilling out into the YMCA car park after The Trip at the Astoria, Paul Oakenfold DJing behind an impressive mullet at Future, sunrise by a lake in East Grinstead. There are baby faces, blissed-out smiles, straw hats, smileys, bubbles, and a lot more paisley than you thought possible. And those iconic images of the second Summer of Love are far from the whole story. Dave Swindells has an immense photographic archive of London clubbing from the mid-’80s right up to the present. As Nightlife Editor of London listings magazine Time Out, he had an access-all-areas pass to the whole after-dark city. You saw his work blown up to wall size in the 2019 Saatchi Gallery show Sweet Harmony: ­Rave Today, and now you can buy it for yourself in two books he’s produced, Ibiza ’89 and Acid House As It Happened. Looking back over his long career, Dave muses on the ups and downs of UK clubbing and the importance of documenting it all.

Interviewed by Frank in Hackney, 2.5.23

Frank Broughton: When it comes to clubbing in London I can’t think of a photographer who’s got a greater body of work spanning so many years and so many different scenes.
Dave Swindells: Being able to go to all those things is such a privilege. At times I’ve amazed myself, ‘Oh my God, I’ve got pictures of that.’ Suddenly, last week, I found these pictures of Jah Shaka that I really didn’t think I had.

I was super lucky to be in a position where I could go to almost anything, you know. I could rock up and either blag my way in or do it by arrangement. To be able to go to Brazilian things, or a Bhangra night, a rock and roll thing, and feel I’ve got a right to be there, because somebody has either commissioned you or given you a job, which allows you access.

I would have liked to have lived more in the clubs that I was photographing. I would go along and take pictures and get into the vibe really quickly. But I often think, why didn’t I go to the afterparties? Why didn’t I go down to Clapham Common and see people on the Sunday?

Don’t be so hard on yourself. You didn’t go to the afterparties because you had to file a story.
It was also about getting back to real life. I didn’t want to go on and on for 24 hours.

There’s so much creativity that goes into nightlife – the fashion, the decor, the music, the graphics, but it’s so ephemeral. It’s not even chip paper the next day. It’s just trashed. So it’s so important you’ve documented all of this.
Yeah, because for so long, we felt like we were the bad boys of culture. You only ever heard bad news about club culture. Oh, it’s drugs, it’s people throwing up in the street. It took so long to get any respect. I think the first time I went on anything that felt as if there was some, what you might call ‘establishment recognition’, was going on a British Council event in the late ’90s, going to Israel with VJs and DJs. Because museums and galleries, they were like, ‘It’s just people having a party, isn’t it?’

Outside the Astoria after The Trip, 1988
Shoom, 1988 at the Fitness Centre with Jaqui (or is it Louise?) Chantrell lost in the smoke
Shoom, 1988 – Simon Wilkinson, Steve Margrave, Sue, Mark ‘Spit’ Fenton and friend

So where would you bequeath your collection if you were to give it to the nation?
I know of other photographers who gave their archive to universities. I suppose that’s a possibility. I did go and meet the V&A once, at the instigation of [Notting Hill Arts Club founder] David McHugh, because he had just done an event there. They were interested. But I think they felt, ‘What would we do with this?’

The Saatchi Gallery did that show on rave, which was quite brave of them at the time, and they did some very lively, sweaty events during it. There was that Leigh Bowery exhibition in the chapel in Fitzrovia. The V&A does collect some photographer’s work, and and they do recognise the cultural value of it. They did that Club To Catwalk show. And back in 1994 they did the Streetstyle show. But it’s only now you feel there’s a kind of recognition.

I guess because people started to understand what club culture has brought to the world.
The New Romantics – even though everyone always disputes that name – that generation made a lot of music that went around the world. But for the most part, it didn’t feel like it was designed to dance to. It didn’t feel like it was part of the same equation as the music coming from New York and Chicago and Philadelphia.

But then London came of age. In the late ’80s a lot of DJs and producers started making music. And then we went on to create actual new musical forms. When jungle and drum and bass came through, UK garage, dubstep, all these things came out of London and the wider UK. That gave a different validity to what was happening in club culture.

And the fact that rave was such a mass culture thing. It was such a cultural movement. It wasn’t just a little bunch of trendies and bohemians in London, or Manchester. It really shifted things, and so many people were involved.

Tell me about Time Out. When did they realise that clubs were something to write about?
I think it was about ’81 or ’82. It was the whole one-nighter thing that got them into it. I remember looking back through the Time Out archive for the 20 years’ anniversary [in 1989], looking for what had been written about in the late ’70s. They had done the occasional nightlife story, about different discos and rock clubs where people danced, but there wasn’t much there. Even though, obviously, really good things and underground things were happening. And definitely there was a massive reggae scene in London. That was hardly ever documented.

I joined in ’86. Nightlife Editor. And at that time, they weren’t doing a brilliant job of it because [Time Out rival] City Limits was definitely better. That was Sheryl Garrett and John Godfrey. They were definitely more tuned in. Lindsey Shapiro, who I took over from, did a good article on Dougie’s and some of the other reggae clubs around Hackney in about ’87. We listed those things, but I don’t think we went out looking for them. When I went for the job the question they asked was, ‘Would you get to a new club quicker than Leigh Bowery?’

I’d been about a year and a half doing pictures for i-D – ‘straight ups’ [the magazine’s pioneering street fashion portraits]. I was so lucky, the guy who had been doing it before kind of got tired of it. He went off to Ibiza and did a whole lot of clubbing for the next 15 years. So I was really lucky to walk in at the right moment. Dylan Jones was editor then. Alix Sharkey was there. And Caryn Franklin. So that’s what got me the job at Time Out.

Time Out played an important role because it had almost an academic view of London. It didn’t want to miss things. That was definitely part of the ethos.
I feel now that it’s quite hard to find out about what’s going on because there isn’t an overview. Obviously Time Out wasn’t perfect and couldn’t be comprehensive. But it was really useful. You were trying to write for the general reader. But to a degree you can also tell people about things that were a little bit edgier, a little bit underground. And you could support things, like Dingwalls or Plastic People, you know, obviously, Fabric when it opened. There were so many good things. There really was an embarrassment of riches. We had a constant supply of potential news stories every week. There was never a shortage of things to write about.

Taking pictures in clubs was quite unusual, wasn’t it?
When I started there were a few people who were regularly taking pictures, but not very many. There was Normski, there was Derek Ridgers. I always give due credit to Derek, he’s phenomenal. I love his pictures. There was Oliver Maxwell and one or two others. It wasn’t like later. I remember going to The End one night in 2006 and there was a bloody queue of people waiting to take a picture of the DJ. And, of course, now it’s totally a different vibe because of smartphones. There are probably some secret archives out there. Because people on different scenes definitely took pictures. Even if they took them with some throwaway 35 millimetre camera.

Where did you grow up? How do you get into all of this?
I grew up near Bath and went to uni in Sheffield, but when I came to London, my brother Steve was already running clubs. He’d started in ’82. He did the Lift, and partnered with Kevin Millins who was doing the Pyramid to do Jungle and Bad and various other nights. It was great having somebody who’s already in the scene. He’d say, ‘Come down to Heaven and see what that’s like. Don’t be shy!’

The Lift was at Stallions, which was a brilliant little venue at the back of the Astoria. With a massive fish tank. I went there in ’83 and to a little warehouse thing that he did. I took a few pictures, and got lucky and they worked. It took quite a long time to get the feeling that I could do this.

I went to one of Steve’s parties at the Titanic, just off Berkeley Square. I think it closed in about ’85. One of those great lost venues. Anyhow, he did a party there in ’83, and it was great. I went into the loos, and the conversation was so fun and camp, and the people were so visual: wild outfits. I’d seen Derek Ridgers’ show The Kiss at the Photographers’ Gallery and I thought, wow, how brilliant to photograph situations like this. I love to capture people when they’re really having a good time. When it’s just the banter and they’re being themselves. But at that stage I wasn’t confident enough to approach people and start snapping.

I remember a lot of the gay clubs in New York wouldn’t allow cameras, because people might not want their image out there, they might be in the closet.
I mean, to be honest, I’m amazed looking back because I took pictures in The Lift in ’84 and most people were really relaxed with it.

Did you ever did you ever get in trouble for taking pictures?
Yeah, definitely. You always had to avoid snapping gangsters and wide-boys. If you walked into a central London house club in the late ’80s and early ’90s the first people you’d meet were usually dealers, and sometimes a whole line of them – no pun intended.

Or Twice As Nice, when it was at The End. There were so many characters there. So many Premiership footballers – though I wasn’t there the night the Beckhams went and did a bit of DJing – and no shortage of gangsters. I knew I’d have to ask people before I took their picture. I don’t want the grief. But it does dilute it somewhat if you go around saying, ‘Do you mind if I take a picture?’

Because you miss the moment.
You can always go back. Or you can do what I sometimes used to do, which was to take one more picture than people really wanted you to. You can see them starting to glare at you.

Twice As Nice at The Colosseum, 1999 with percussion passion from Travis
Twice As Nice at The End, 2000
Twice As Nice at The End, 2000

Tell me more about acid house. That was the scene you dived most deeply into.
I really felt a part of it. Even though I was about two months later than everyone else, that spring – I was a little bit late to the party. But nonetheless, I knew everyone involved. Nicky Holloway, Paul Oakenfold… Danny Rampling had done The Dos at the Zoo, The Dinosaur Do and all these things. So yeah, I did feel very much part of it. And I had felt very much a part of what was going on in ’85 and ’86, the warehouse thing. Because that was a really exciting time to discover London, and have a camera and be able to record it.

What was the first thing you went to that was part of what would become acid house
Well I had had been to the Dinosaur Doo, and Johnnie Walker and Danny Rampling were saying ‘We’ve got some ideas, we’re going to do something, you’ll have to come down.’ And that was late ’87. At the same time there was this whole ‘flare groove’ thing going on, which brought fun and silliness and dressing up to the rare groove scene, in clubs like Discotheque at Busby’s.

The really interesting thing about ’88 was it started fast and got faster, all through the year. You know, it wasn’t only acid house and Balearic beats. At the start of ’88 there was so much energy suddenly, so much positive vibes. ‘We can do this!’ ‘Let’s make this better!’ And of course ’87 had been amazing for the scale and ambition of things – like the Westworld parties. They were the only thing that compared with the scale of what was going on in Ibiza. London was mostly small clubs, you know, except for Heaven. Not many other places were remotely organised and well-run and had decent sound systems. So those Westworld parties were incredible. Four and a half thousand people, and they did four or five parties. Then they did Wet World parties in swimming pools.

Westworld, 1987, setting the scale for rave
Westworld, 1987

It’s funny looking at pictures from 1987 because a lot of people were really ambitious. There was a ghost train operating on the Astoria stage, there was Delirium with all sorts of adventures, a skate ramp, BMX bikes, a helter-skelter – they were doing all that in the Astoria.

So there were a lot of promoters who were really seizing the moment and trying to put on something that was a lot more of an event than just a little nightclub. The ambition that led to the raves was born in in warehouse parties. They just thought, ‘Let’s, scale this up. Let’s really try and do something.’

People knew how to find one-off venues, where to borrow a sound system. You could publicise it on pirate radio. It’s like you say, acid house was definitely not year zero. It was just that suddenly there’s this new thing that takes advantage of all this know-how.
And of course, it was it was the availability of ecstasy. Which some of the club promoters were very much involved in.

Were you aware that that was the thing that kicked it off?
You knew that it needed a prompt. And of course, a drug like that – that made people feel that liberated, was what kicked it off, yeah. What was gonna happen next was anybody’s guess. But of course, for someone like little old innocent me, who’d been to Taboo and seen half the dancefloor on ecstasy, because somebody had brought back a case from New York. I remember seeing it immediately: ‘OK, this is ecstasy. Right. Okay. Great.’

Leigh Bowery and friend on the floor at an ABC party, 1985

So Taboo was the first place you saw ecstasy in action?
Yeah. Half the club was on it, including the DJs. And they were all jumping into a pile with Leigh Bowery at the bottom, because he’d fallen over spinning around with [dancer and BodyMap founder] David Holah on his shoulders, and then everyone jumped on, including the DJs. And the record’s going around. We’re like, wow, this is really the trendiest club in London. Look at it!

And so, having seen that and experienced that, when I walked into The Future… Paul Oakenfold had told me, ‘Look, Dave, come down, have a look because it really is happening. Ibiza was fucking amazing and it’s about time we didn’t have just one style of music being played.’

And the Balearic thing had already been happening at warehouse parties in so many ways. You didn’t go to a warehouse party that played only funk music. Those parties were all about mixing it up. Apart from anything else, you could get 3,000 people into some of those places

The warehouse parties were generally more more than one room.
Yeah, generally two or three floors, if you were lucky, if the space allowed it. So it certainly wasn’t year zero. This whole ecosystem was already in place. And this new music, which had really been around for two or three years. And consequently there were so many brilliant tunes, you know, some of them were a couple of years old already. But that didn’t matter.

Back then I did feel very much a part of it, and that gave me licence to go into the clubs and photograph there because I was trusted. I was familiar. You’ve been invited. And then I went to Rockley Sands, I arranged my book Acid House As It Happened in the order that I went to places.

You wrote one of the very first pieces about the scene, in Time Out in March ‘88. Which was quite coded about what was happening: talking about ‘ecstatic dancing’.
Yeah, very rapidly we avoided mentioning ecstasy, but of course, as long as you took out the pictures of people gurning, most people didn’t know, they just thought wow, those people are having a really great time.

Ibiza 89 Amnesia pyramid

Tell me about Ibiza. Your Ibiza book is based on a single trip, isn’t it?
Yeah, one week. With Alix Sharkey who wrote the article for 20/20 Magazine. The editor Don Atyeo gave us an open brief. We said we think we ought to go and do something on Ibiza, because it was so important to London last year. And he said, ‘Just go there and see what you find’. Which is a dream assignment. And this was partly because he’d been in Zaire. Don Atyeo was the only reporter who stayed in Zaire for the Rumble in the Jungle after George Foreman got injured in training. He didn’t have the money to go back to the UK. And so he stayed in Zaire for six weeks and got in with Ali.

Did you know where to go?
Oh, we knew really. Our story was that that the clubs were going to have to have roofs put on them. This would be their last year open-air. It was a dream to go and take pictures of people having these crazy times with palm trees all around. We just thought, well, we’re gonna go to Amnesia with Boy George hosting the night because it was his birthday party. And we’ll see if we can go to Ku and then we’ll see what else is happening.

We’d been told  there were these really good bars paying music along Las Salinas. In the end, the story is quite long. And I was so happy Alix allowed me to include it in the book. It’s a good counterpoint to the myth that everything was perfect. Because even back then I’m moaning about all these bloody Brits puking up and jumping into hotel swimming pools from the balconies. That started right in the beginning.

And the other thing was it was multi-generational. We went to Pacha and the whole family’s there, even grandma, just like they would be if you went to a reggae dance or a bhangra night. And that was really, really good.

And you’ve updated the book for this new edition.
Yeah. It’s fun to put out the book again, there are some pictures that weren’t in the first one, and I also improved a few of the other shots.

Any other books in the pipeline?
Yes. I’ve got two books I’m working on. But both of them are secret in terms of what we can mention.

Your pictures have had a busy life because there are so few others of the whole acid house time.
At the time, the fact that I had pictures, and Oliver Maxwell had a few pictures, of Shoom meant it got all the attention. That’s a real factor, isn’t it? Of course, once things got written about, then the other clubs, like RIP, down at Clink Street, did get the props and the recognition. I mean, Shoom was a brilliant club. It had an incredible atmosphere. This crowd who were being incredibly nurturing of each other and, you know, a lot of them were only 16, 17. They were kids. They were bringing along teddy bears and all that. The whole vibe of Shoom was really amazing.

There was a newsletter, wasn’t there? with Jenni Rampling advising people on relationships and whether you should give up your job.
I remember when I was offered ecstasy at the first night of Spectrum, you know, I was like, No, I want to take some pictures. And I knew how many people had already chucked in their jobs. And I also knew it’s 25 quid. I felt a bit of a wuss, but on the other hand, I took the pictures. I just did some cheeky halves that summer and that was about it. Because there’s no way I could have taken pictures otherwise. I met people later on who were really high while still taking pictures, but by then you had autofocus.

What did you miss that you wish you could go back and photograph?
As far as the whole ’88 thing, there’s obviously ones I didn’t get to. I should have gone to Hedonism. I would definitely go back to that. Especially because so many of the black promoters in London were there. That’s where they got the revelation. The people who had heard this music on pirate radio. And thought, ‘What the fuck is that?’ Then when they heard it in a club, it suddenly made sense, on a proper sound system.

What are some of your greatest memories from that time?
Dancing along to the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech in a club was amazing. Dancing to ‘Promised Land’ – hearing gospel house was incredible. And also ‘Yeke yeke’ another tune from that summer that often gets forgotten. That was all amazing. And obviously ‘Can You Feel It’.

I remember the first night of The Trip. They were really nervous: ‘Is it gonna be full?’ ‘Have we gone too big too early?’ You could lower the ceiling in The Astoria because it was such a huge venue. To start with they had it lowered. Then after only about two or three weeks they lifted up the ceiling and you can suddenly see from the bottom of the stage right up to the top of the room. It’s full of people going wild. ‘Wow, look at this energy rush!’ It really was phenomenal. And then there was too much energy in the room so it spilled out onto the street.

Those famous pictures of people partying outside. Was that happening every week?
Every week I heard about it happening. And I wrote about it in Time Out because I wanted it to definitely happen again so I could photograph it for The Observer. And I was so happy because of course it’s a different deal altogether when it’s outside. And years later to see people like Fabio and Grooverider in the pictures. I didn’t know who they were at the time.

‘Can you feel it?’ Ecstatic energy spilling into the street after the Trip, 1988
Fabio & Grooverider getting a taste for acid house at The Trip, 1988

Going down into the YMCA car park and people bashing on the top of cars. These poor people were just trying to drive home and suddenly 200 people are all jumping around, shouting ‘Can You Feel It!’ and ‘Acieeeeed,’ and all that stuff. One car drove up playing Public Enemy ‘Fight The Power’, and there was this feeling of rebellion, rebellion in the streets, people having an amazing time.

And the police were visible maybe about 100 yards away. We were outside the Dominion Theatre and there were only about two or three policemen, and I thought, what are they going to make of this? They’re gonna see a lot of people jumping around and think, Well, they’re having a good time. But they’re not actually causing any trouble.

And of course, later on, that all changed. This was the honeymoon period. For about four or five months. A few months down the line there were the first shock-horror stories. And it was basically the music press, the NME. Because they they were not holding back, they said there’s loads of drugs in there.

You must have been back to Ibiza plenty of times?
I didn’t go back for 11 years. I eventually got back there in 2000. Everyone started telling me about these DC10 parties next to the airport, how people were saying, this reminds me of the old days when we didn’t have any roofs.

I guess we should touch on your little team at Time Out over the years. Sam Pow and Reetu Rupal I know well.
Yeah, and Ben Bellman, who was with me for ten. Yeah. I was really lucky to have a lot of other people contributing, because there’s always more than one person can reasonably know about or find out about, or experience. So it was brilliant having having a bit of a crew.

Do you think there’s been a shape to club culture? A kind of historic curve or something?
It became a popular culture surge. It happened first with acid house, then with ’90s rave culture, and then that spilled out into festival culture. So many festivals got established, which started basically as dance festivals. Who were finding legal ways of doing it after you had such a repressive situation.

Obviously, if acid house hadn’t happened, there was no way they were going to shift the licensing hours. That wasn’t even a thought. The only change in the licensing hours before that was to let wine bars open in the afternoon.

And so many people went out in the rave years, and so many of those people are still going out. It might only be once a month or once every six weeks or whatever, but they’re still up for it. And they’ll definitely go to festivals and one thing and another.

But the variety and sheer volume of nightlife changed. In the ’80s and ’90s you could go to little one-nighters every night of the week. People definitely still want to go out. But there’s nothing like the range of opportunity to experience club culture, seven days a week. There’s really great bars, and they’ve got brilliant music, but people are not paying five quid to go to a club on a Tuesday night.

And so many clubs have closed. Clubs like Plastic People, The Cross, Bagleys. When venues close it breaks your heart a little bit. Because of what happened in those places. And what could still have happened if they’d stayed open… Because every social space matters. But there’s a brutal economic reality – if you have property values and rent rates like London, there’s a limit to how much you can do before it just becomes uneconomic to run a club. To be honest, I’m amazed that somebody has put a reported £70million into Koko. And they seem to be making a go of it.

Even back in the day, for many of the clubs it wasn’t economic either. It was just passion. Like Ultimate B.A.S.E. at the Velvet Rooms, It was only a small venue and they had all their running costs, but they’d subsidise it to have big guest DJs. Felix Da Housecat would come along. They were so good. But of course, the reality of running a mid-week club night was it was always going to be a struggle to break even. I think a lot of people now would say, ‘God, what a slog to try and do that’. How many weekly club nights are there now? I don’t know. Not many.

What makes a great night?
It’s a combination of so many little factors. You want brilliant music. But in the end it’s got to be the people who go. No party is happening without dancers who want to go there. And that’s why I always wanted to photograph the people who went to the party, not just the promoters and the DJs, and a couple of ace faces. It’s the people who make it happen. You can call it call-and-response, the relationship between the dancers and the DJ, or the music maker, or the live band, or whatever it is.

One of the things I really loved about doing the club section was, it was never just one type of thing. There’ve been so many different types of clubs we cover. Clubs can be a cabaret performance, they can be techno, or exclusively West African music… There’s so many different vibes and things that you can respond to and get into. So what makes a great club? In the end, the most important thing for me was always the vibe, the vibe that people created together.

© Bill Brewster & Frank Broughton. All pics © Dave Swindells.

Nancy Noise brought Ibiza home

Nancy Noise brought Ibiza home

She was one of ‘The Walworth Road girls’, the angelic urchins mixing it with the international jet trash of Ibiza’s legendary open-air Amnesia in 1987. When a bunch of likeminded Ibiza veterans imported the sunshine and pills formula into dreary old London, Nancy Turner became Nancy Noise. Armed with a plastic bag of records, she showed herself to be a DJ of sensitivity and deep music knowledge, not least because while her mates were going doolally in Amnesia she had made time to obsessively note down the wild and weird records Alfredo and Leo Mas were playing. Haunting Rough Trade and the Virgin Megastore, she amassed the Balearic canon and employed it to great effect at The Future and Spectrum. ‘I didn’t really want to be a DJ, I just had loads of records,’ she told i-D in 1990. Today she’s one of the finest, with a forward-looking Balearic style that still owes a huge debt to those formative years.

interviewed by Bill in London 9.3.18, main pic Dave Swindells, all others from Nancy’s collection

Nancy in San Antonio in 1987

When was the first time you went to Ibiza?
I went there in 1984 but that doesn’t really count, we just went on holiday twice. I was quite young then and stayed in San Antonio. I met a gang of people from Stoke – striking miners who’d gone out to Ibiza as workers. But I saved up and went back there for the whole summer in May 1986. I rented an apartment with three mates, Tanya, Michelle and Joanne, who is Lisa Loud’s sister. Over that summer my sister Katie came out a lot and also Lisa and her boyfriend.

What did you do when you were there?
We were just hanging out. We’d saved up quite a bit of money through the winter and paid rent on this flat for four months: May, June, July, August, and then we moved into another flat for September. We were dossing around really. I did try a few jobs but I didn’t really do much.

Had you started DJing by then?
No I wasn’t a DJ. I was just a person going out there to have fun.

Did you go to any clubs?
When we first got there we were only in San Antonio so we were just going around the West End and then was Extasis, Star Club, Es Paradis. There were lots of drunk people, people snogging and handbags! It really wasn’t our scene. We found Cafe Del Mar first and then got invited out to this night with all the workers and they were bit older than us and we went round all the West end and then the last club we ended up at was Amnesia.

It was really late and turning from night to day. We walked in and we were like, ‘Oh my God!’. Couldn’t believe it. Open air, loads of lovely looking people. Colourful characters. That was it! That’s when we started going every single night. We’d hitch up there, or if anyone had a motorbike… We didn’t have money for cabs or anything. To get in free you had to go early, so we’d get there at like 1am or something and it would be empty. I’d be standing there, hovering around. Sometimes it would just be me and one other person, or there might be five people or a few crews. There were swings in there in 1986: a small one that went over the dancefloor and another one on a tree around the back. There was a room with cushions in it and different areas and we’d just hang out.

What music would be playing?
I wasn’t taking much notice. I fell in love with it because it was so eclectic and in London it was mainly jazz-funky soul, then rare groove. I worked with Pete Waterman. We had an office with a hi-NRG record label. I’d go to those nights, with Divine, so I’d been to loads of clubs, but different genres in each place. Amnesia was all different stuff in one night. A lot of pop. Loads of things we didn’t know. Liaisons Dangereuses ‘Los Ninos Del Parque’, which was European new beat-y sounding. The Clash, The Cure and because I got in there early it was quite floaty. They might throw in a bit of jazz-funk that we knew from London and some house.

Getting in there early was great, though, cos you got to see the night grow. Each night would be different and we’d discovered it not long after it had opened that year, and we watched it as the whole summer changed. After a while it got busy every single night. It was the club that workers from other clubs would come to, like the dancers from Pacha and the Loca Mio people would come in there in ’86. They were a band, I didn’t know they were a band, I just thought they were really cool, with people with big shoulders and long shoes, and they had fans, quite mad clothes. In ’86, so many people people dressed in mad things, I’ve got photos somewhere. A guy with Barbie dolls coming out of his hair. It was the same DJs throughout the whole summer: Leo Mas and Alfredo. That was it. No guests. I don’t even think there were any PAs. They played the same music all the way through the summer. It was like Balearic brainwashing! I loved it. In ’86, it was ‘Woman of the World’, by Double, Art of Noise ‘Paranomia’, ‘Love Can’t Turn Around’, The Cure.

Were there loads of records you loved but had no idea what they were?
Yeah. ‘Would I Find Love’ by Dizzi Heights was one of the biggest tunes that summer. I never spoke to them in ’86. I wasn’t someone who hung around by DJs. But I used to wander over and peek over the side to see if I could see the record sleeve. I don’t even remember writing anything down but when I got back to London I remember going to the massive Virgin on Oxford Street and buying ‘Would I Find Love’ on 12-inch in there, Jeffrey Osborne’s ‘Soweto’ which was a big record I found in there. When I got back I started working for my friend’s record label and my boss mentioned the label Teldec and I must’ve clocked the sleeve of this tune ‘Too Much’ by Hong Kong Syndikat. And I was like Teldec?! Can you get me a copy of Hong Kong Syndikat? So we rung them and got a load of copies sent over. We actually released that on E&F Records that winter well before Balearic Beat was released. That was one that got played early in the night, but I really loved it.

After the summer in 1986 literally all we spoke about was Amnesia. We were like lunatics. Every time we got together we’d just and talk about it. My mum and dad were like, ‘What is going on?’! I had Amnesia posters on my wall and I had a little underground sign and where there’d be the name of the station I had Ibiza written on it! We all started saving and we had a little crew. There were no mobile phones, so we swapped addresses and home phone numbers and these northern (Sheffield, Manchester, Corby) guys we got on so well with. We’d gone to RAW in the winter. I didn’t know my friends had bumped into some of the boys during the day in Covent Garden so I got there that night and they were there! We’d partied so much together we were all really close. So the crew was quite small the first year but it got bigger the next.

Nancy at Glory’s in 1987 with Vince and John
Lounging at Amnesia, 1987, with Simon and Jo


Then we went back in 1987. The next summer there was a real buzz around San An, and a few more people had turned up that had heard about Amnesia, quite a big Beckenham and Bromley crew. We were talking about Amnesia to them before the first night, and we got there and every single record was different! I turned up waiting to hear the same stuff and every single track was different. It was all amazing but it took a few days to get used to that. That was the year of ‘Jibaro’, Thrashing Doves, Cyndi Lauper and all that stuff. All the house stuff: ‘House Nation’ etc. I met Paul [Oakenfold] in there around August, but we’d been going there every night. And I’d been hanging out with Ian St Paul quite a bit. Him and Trevor [Fung] had The Project bar, and a lot of people used to go there before going up to Amnesia. Ian had a Jeep so I used to get a lift in that quite often and hang out in his apartment. Paul turned up and it was really weird cos I knew Nicky Holloway from London cos I used to go to all the soul things he did at the Royal Oak. So I was dancing around in there and bashed into someone and it was Nicky. What are you doing here?! What do you mean what am I doing in here, what are you doing in here?! I’ve been here for bloody ages. Oh I’m on holiday. He was there with Paul, Danny Rampling and Johnny Wallker. Didn’t really say much to Paul then but then I got invited to his birthday thing in a villa somewhere in the hills and I just remember saying, ‘No I can’t go there because I might miss Amnesia’. Thinking back now, I was a lunatic. I could’ve missed an amazing party but I didn’t care. I just wanted to be in Amnesia. Couldn’t get enough of it.

Was ecstasy evident in ’86?
Towards the end of the summer there were a couple of boys that had it, who had more money than us. A lot of LSD for our lot in ’86 which was just as much fun in Amnesia. ’86 was a lot of talk about it and, ‘Oh my god it’s amazing.’ Then I think in the winter we went to Amsterdam and it was going on there. ’87 was just full ecstasy the whole summer. In ’87 I’m thinking was it powder or pills? When it first came to England it was powder and we were dropping it in Rizlas.

And you brought the vibe home with you?

Yeah. We were having house parties in Essex in 1987 before clubs like Shoom even started.

When did you learn to DJ?
When I came back after that second summer. I met Paul and when I got back I started hanging out with him a bit. I started going to things with him, and he’d come and pick me up, and he came up to the flat and put my records around the room so you could see the sleeves and he said, ‘Who’s are these records?’ ‘Oh, they’re mine.’ This is the stuff I’ve been buying that I heard in Amnesia. That was it.

Then a few weeks went by and he did the night at Ziggys where Alfredo flew over and the police raided it. Bloody nightmare. They found Soundshaft and I think it was people’s birthdays so they had a party. After being together for four months it was a much bigger crew, and we were all desperate to get together as much as we could. So they did the first one with Paul playing and either Paul or Ian or both said, ‘Oh, do you wanna play some records before Paul?’ I said, ‘Er, I don’t know if I can!’ Then I thought, It’s only playing in front of a few friends. I’m sure it’ll be fine.’ So I turned up with a carrier bag with my records in it and did it. Within a few weeks it was packed and magazines were writing about it and I was like, ‘My god, I can’t cope with this!’ I used to send people to find Paul: go find him and tell him I’ve run out of records! He’d say: ignore her, let her sweat. Then he turned up at my flat one day with one those units that mobile DJs used to use. This is for you, you’ve got it for two weeks. There was no varispeed, but I sat on the floor playing my records, thinking oh that Prince one goes well with this. Did that for a few weeks. Couldn’t mix. I actually went back to Ibiza for a month and told Paul I couldn’t cope. Then when I was away I changed my mind and I came back.

In the Soundshaft booth at The Future, with mates Max and Sandra

Was it literally everyone you’d hung out with in Ibiza?
Yeah. The word just spread via friends. My friend Chris Abbot who’d also been to Ibiza said when he was queuing to get in someone in the queue said oh this is an E club! 

Where were the drugs coming from?
Oh god don’t ask me. I think it was something to do with the Sannyasin lot.

When did you know this was going to be massive?
Spectrum. It was empty for weeks and then suddenly one week there were queues all around the block. Lots of people I knew from London who’d found out about it. Word had spread. Future was busy from the beginning. It lasted till about 1990, around two years.

What is acid house’s legacy?
Ecstasy changed a lot of people’s attitudes. I had friends who had racist friends who really changed. It was a lot about love. The style of clubbing that happened in Amnesia, it changed the style of clubbing from what I’d been used to before. It could be a combination of the music and the drugs. More friendly, more open, more friendly. The nights that are happening now come from that.

© Bill Brewster & Frank Broughton

Trevor Fung invented Ibiza

Trevor Fung invented Ibiza

The Ibiza origin story, made legend by Paul Oakenfold, sees Oakey, along with fellow London DJ/promoters Danny Rampling, Nicky Holloway and Johnny Walker, discovering the sacred open-air dancefloor of Amnesia, with its uniquely cosmopolitan crowd, its genre-busting DJ Alfredo Fiorito, and its ‘ecstatic’ drug habits in the glorious summer of ’87. The quartet sampled the musical and pharmaceutical delights on offer, danced their socks off, and vowed to recreate this hedonistic sunshine vibe in London as soon as they could. And so was written the foundation chapter of acid house.

Less has been written about the hand that guided these Balearic explorers. The figure who introduced them to the music of Alfredo, the wonderfully mixed crowd of Amnesia – and the dancefloor emotions in a little white and orange capsule – was Trevor Fung, a young DJ and promoter who’d been playing and promoting on the British jazz-funk scene, and had been coming to the White Island since 1979. Trevor had even DJed at Amnesia as early as 1982. By ’87, he and his cousin Ian St Paul were running a little bar on the island called The Project Club, selling tickets and T-shirts for all the big clubs. As a DJ, Trevor Fung became a mainstay of acid house, playing at Shoom, Spectrum, Love, Rage, as well as at many of the M25 raves, including Sunrise, Energy, Biology and World Dance. In this wide-ranging and often hilarious interview he talks about the earlier DJs who influenced Alfredo, throws in a few wild tales of DJing at raves, and sets the story straight about the acid house creation myth.

Interviewed by Bill and Frank in Soho, 3.2.05

How did you get started as a DJ?
I’d met Steve Walsh who was doing his big Monday Soul Night Out with Tony Blackburn. I started playing in Slough as his warm-up disc jockey. And later the Lyceum, that was one of the main ones.

What was the thing in Slough?
It wasn’t a club; it was like a big hall. I’d been up there quite a few times. But a massive punch up broke out! We’d go up there, three coach loads from London and then one day this massive fight broke out with people throwing bottles. I ducked behind the DJ stand. Don’t know what they was fighting about, it was like this Slough – south London thing. We got on the coach, they smashed up the coach. Put all the windows through.

That’s how I met Paul Oakenfold. I was going to Slough, on the coach, and he sat next to us and started talking. He’d come to all these gigs before. I was probably 1 at the time. We used to do loads of things, Hammersmith Palais, was it LBC or one of those things that did the promotion.

What was he doing then?
He was a chef. He’d never played music in his life! He came up, quiet guy, started talking to him and it went from there. He was always asking me these questions. What’s this? Where do you get the records from? How’s this? He didn’t know fuck all about the music, but he wanted to know. I didn’t know he wanted to get in the business, all I knew was that he was a chef and he used to come to all these gigs. I started doing these spots at a place in Dartford

Yeah. I started getting some guest work up there with Colin Hudd, Jeff Young, Pete Tong stuff like that. I started getting involved in the soulboy thing. I was going up to Hilltop, going up to Dartford, Lacy Lady. Oakenfold used to drive us up these places, we used to make him! And in the worst car I’ve ever seen in my life. It was his dad’s, a brown Austin Maxi. Quick get out, don’t let anyone see us!

This was when the ‘Soul Mafia’ had things sewn up.
There was a core of people and to get in there you had to break that core. I was going to things like Caister and I wanted to get on to gigs like these, but there was no way. I couldn’t get in because of the usual suspects, Chris Hill. It got really stale. Same old music. You know, I could play those old things as well, but in the parties we did, I always put forward new music. Always.

We used to put on these gigs in Scamps in Croydon once a month on a Wednesday, and we used to book everyone: Hilly, Robbie Vincent, Jeff Young, Pete Tong. Also some other guys who used to work with us on the gigs, a guy called Tony Thorpe…

Of the Moody Boys [production and remix team]?
Yeah, and a guy called Mick McGuire. He’s a guy that used to work for Greyhound distribution, he worked at a record shop in Croydon and he now works in Japan playing techno! So by booking them, they started to return the favour. That’s how it works! Isn’t it? And I was telling Paul all of this!

Was he DJing by now?
No. But we used to go round his house and play records. One day we said shall we do something? Started doing some little bars and parties. From there we found this little gay club in Streatham. Didn’t even know it was there, lived there for a good seven years before I found this place. It’s underneath a pub, great little place, holds about 350, dark, really dingy, with a stage. It was like a gay cabaret place. Met the guy; asked him for every Friday. He said yeah. It was called Ziggy’s at the time, terrible name. But we just didn’t think of a name so we went with that.

So you called it Ziggy’s too?
Yeah! And we started putting on our nights every Friday. Packed solid. Me and Paul and we had a warm-up guy called Carl Cox. We had that place for seven years, from about 81-89. We changed the name twice, it went from Ziggy’s to the Funhouse to Project. Same place.

By that time, I’d started travelling, I’d gone out to Ibiza in 1980 and ’81. I went out there every year, consistently from 1979 to 1994. So there was lots of different kinds of music, soul, jazz booking people like Tongy, but then as Funhouse we were trying to play different types of music.

The Project Club we were slowly bringing in hip-hop. Paul, at the time – fucking hell he done this fast – he’d started working for Def Jam. He’d get acts over to the UK, bring them on to Westwood’s show and afterwards he’d come down to see us. We had loads of people down there. Marshall Jefferson, Darryl Pandy, Run DMC, Beastie Boys. We’d shut at 2 o’clock, get everybody out and down a little side alley. Then half an hour later, we used to re-open and go on till 5 or 6 in the morning. No one troubled us. Police didn’t know. Alcohol, the lot. This went on for years. Some nights we wouldn’t even work, and Carl’d play for about five hours. Carl used to love it; he couldn’t get enough of it. He used to come up from Brighton, set up the sound system, take it down and go home. I swear, we only gave him about 30 quid, then it went up to about £50. I remember doing an interview once a long time ago and they said who do you think is your up-and-coming DJ and I always said Carl Cox.

What took you to Ibiza the first time?
I was working in the travel business; I got a free holiday with… Club 18-30! So I go over there on a Club 18-30 holiday and I had the wildest time. Loved it. I loved it because it was the first time I’d been down to the Café Del Mar. First time I’d been to some of these clubs.

What was Café del Mar like in 1979?
It was just a little bar. It wasn’t done up. There was hardly anything around it then, it’s not like it is now. It was the only bar there. There were no flats. So everybody would just sit there at sunset and listen to the music, including the locals.

Before Alfredo, the big DJ on the island was this guy called Carlos Diaz. Brilliant disc jockey. He used to play all the indie stuff. At the time, I thought where the fuck did he get all this stuff? I used to look through his records going ‘where did you get this from?’ And then I looked at the labels and it was all English stuff. It was from Leeds and places like that. It was way he played it. He had a really good style. He was the first disc jockey who really changed my views.

Where did he play?
Es Paradis in San Antonio. Es Paradis, at the time, was amazing. Nothing like it is now. San Antonio was not like that at the time. Nothing. Es Paradis was one of the biggest clubs. There was Es Paradis, Pacha and Glory’s.

Describe Es Paradis.
Not as built up as it is now, it just used to have that centrepiece. You’d go in there and it was mainly Scandinavian holidaymakers, Swedish, Danish. Then Germans. The English market was small then, maybe 10-15%, maybe even less. There were more English workers than holidaymakers. It was mainly Scandis. That’s why he used to play this kind of music.

What was the capacity?
About 1500. It was all outside and inside. There was only the centrepiece fountain that was covered. In those days, they used to put these fountains on every night. You walk into this place and all you see is fucking gorgeous women, and it’s not full of Spanish guys, because they were all working.

So you’ve got Carlos playing all these different kinds of music, things like Jellybean mixes, a bit of Madonna, a real mish-mash. A lot of American pop stuff remixed by Benitez. It just seemed and sounded different, probably because of the atmosphere. It was electric. I wasn’t even doing drugs. I didn’t even know what drugs was, at that time.

Did it look like people were doing drugs there?
Well, when I think about it now… Yeah! It was wild. I loved it in there. It was a combination of the people, the music and the atmosphere. Everyone was dancing all over the place, it was like a coliseum, so everyone danced on the steps and at the end of the night they put on the fountains, which came out of the middle so everyone in the centre got absolutely soaked.

How did you meet Carlos?
I met him just going up and talking to him. I used go and pick up some sounds in the UK and take them to him.

So were you going over for two weeks at a time?
No I’d go for like five days. I’d got for weekends. Any time I could get out I’d go.

So you went more than once a year?
Oh yeah, I’d be going out there three or four times a year. I used to get flights for £15. I was earning quite a lot of money at the time cos I was working during the day and at night. Sometimes I wouldn’t go at the weekend, I’d go out Tuesday and come back Friday. Didn’t make any difference to me. Every night was a weekend out there anyway. Couldn’t tell whether it was Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Actually weekends were the worst because everyone would change over. During the week everyone settled down.

Tell us more about Carlos Diaz.
Carlos is one of the best Ibizan disc jockeys ever. Without doubt. This is where Alfredo got it from, this style of playing.

What was it about these guys that grabbed you?
Well a lot of these guys who lived on the mainland would go to Barcelona and Madrid so they’d be working in their clubs. It was a different concept. Pacha was unbelievable. Even though I’d be going to Ibiza, I hadn’t been to Pacha until my third or fourth year in. I’d never even touched that because I thought why do I need to go all that way when I’m having such fun here! [meaning Es Paradis] I was quite young as well then and it was a lot older at Pacha, so I think the music, because they’d spent the summer working in these other venues, they’d got better shops and they’d got time to prepare and know the music. Because they were working with different nationalities they had to do it in a way where they please everybody.

So in a way, the dancefloor’s cosmopolitanism shaped the music?
Exactly. But I liked that, I really did enjoy that.

And you tried to recreate that vibe in the UK?
There was a big difference between doing that abroad and doing that in England. This is what the Funhouse was about. We set it up in ’84 [in Streatham] trying to do this. It just failed miserably. A lot of the people hadn’t been to Ibiza so they didn’t get the experience of it without going to Ibiza.

It was a bit like that club that Rusty Egan and Steve Strange did… they had a club in Lyceum that failed, the one with the TVs and that. Steve tried it and that didn’t work either. I knew Steve; he used to come down, and Rusty.

Did you inject any other things like décor to try and get it to work?
I was trying to, but people were just like ‘what the fuck are you doing?!’

How early did you see the rich, jet set party side of things on Ibiza?
Later, much later.

Were you aware that it existed?
I wasn’t clueless… but I didn’t need it. I knew it was there, but I knew it was expensive.

Was Pacha were they hung out?
There was Pacha, there was Glory’s. Glory’s used to be in between Amnesia and the end of that road, before the roundabout. I think it’s a car showroom now. That used to be the after-hours club where everybody would go down from all the other places. That’s where you used to see the people mashed in there. They were the two best clubs, and Es Paradis, too.

When did you first go to Pacha?
’83. I’d decided that the music was going really well in the club. Jacked my job in and wanted to go and stay in Ibiza. Went over in April with my cousin Ian Paul, stayed there and came back in November. I met loads of people.

Ian St Paul?
Dunno why he put the St in there for! I was supposed to go with Ian but he bottled out the day before. I thought, fuck that I’m not hanging round for no one. At the time, there was loads of rare groove and I was bored of it and wanted to do something different. Met up with Carlos, and he started giving me little jobs in bars. I was working in a place called the If Bar. I’d do some nights at the Star Club. Met loads of Spanish people. Just little jobs here and there.

Did you speak Spanish?
No not really. I met a guy called Sid from Liverpool in 1979; met a good bunch of English people who had bars. I was doing loads of stuff with them. Just hung out for the summer. I used to fly back to London every month, go and see me good old pals like Johnny Walker, Mike Sefton, pick up loads of tunes and then I’d sort all the DJs out in the island. The two little guys at Pacha, can’t remember the names, but I’ve got all that stuff at home. I used to sort them all out. Ten copies of one record.

Must’ve been good for your standing among the other DJs
Of course. I never used to give it to them; I used to charge them, then whatever’s was left I took down the local record shop.

Were you hustling for gigs out there?
No not really. No! The reason why I went that year to Ibiza was because I worked for a guy at a place called Fred & Ginger’s at Old Burlington St opposite Legends. Two Belgian guys, it was. They bought a club; I went to play in Amnesia. I played in there. There was no one in there. No one. Dead.  I played there for about two weeks. It had just been bought and they’d just got it going. Didn’t happen. Lost my job. So I went back to England did temping and went back the following season.

What was Pacha like the first time you went there?
It was unbelievable. It was richer, much older people. Really glamorous, all models, mainly. You could tell that people were just flying in for the weekend and then flying out again on Monday. Drinks were really expensive. I was really young then, I didn’t have money to enjoy myself. I was just dancing, hanging round the DJ booth.

How was the music compared to Es Paradis?
Completely different. Nothing like Es Paradis. It was pure dance music. Quite forward. What I’ll always remember about Pacha before it started to change, a lot of it was quite tribally, a lot of drum music. A lot of tribal music.

Stuff like George Kranz?
Yeah, like that. In the old days, the girls that used to dance with the guys, there’d be about seven of them and they’d all be dressed up to the nines. I’d be there with my eyes hanging out!

And the DJ were these two little guys?
Yeah, two guys from Madrid. There was another one that joined them from Barcelona.

I used to go to Ku as well. That used to be amazing in the early days. Before it had the roof on it. A lot of the clubs were amazing before the roofs went on in 1990. Ku was like a mixture of the two, but much wilder. It was like a massive playground. It was completely wild. People jumping in the pool, doing anything, anywhere, anytime. There weren’t any restrictions. Completely different type of people, though, which is why I think the behaviour, was different. It wasn’t aggressive. It was all fun. It used to amaze me that in Ku there’d be 5,000 people, in Es Paradis there’d be 1,500 people and in Pacha you’d have a couple of thousand but, fuck me, you’d never see anyone during the day. Where did they all come from?! You’d turn up at Ku and the car park would be packed solid, the club would be packed solid. It was brilliant. I’ve seen Roxy Music playing there. James Brown. Visage.

After that year, I came back, that’s when I started to do the Funhouse, which we did around London. Still doing the Friday night, with more hip hoppy stuff. When I got back everything started to come together, started playing at Caister. All of a sudden you come back refreshed and it’s happening. I was doing a lot of things with Nicky Holloway.

What was your first experience of ecstasy?

So you’d been going quite a while before you realised?
Well, this is a funny story. I used to play carrom, this game where you knock pieces into the corners. I used to go and play it with this German guy Walter. Really friendly guy. Knew him really well. Knew him for years. Used to go and see him all the time. People’d come and see him, he’d say, ‘Be back in a minute’, ‘Yeah, alright’. One day in ’86 he says, ‘Hey Trev, do you want some of these?’ Looked at it and he had this little tiny tub. I said, ‘What’s this?’ He said, ‘ecstasy’. Gave me a couple and said, ‘here, try it…’ Well, that was it!

So you did them at his house?
No I was out, I went out with Ian. Cos Ian came out with me the following year, in ’84. But that same guy, he went on to buy a big club on the island.

What did you do the first night you did ecstasy?
I was working! At the end of the night we done this thing, we’d finish at 3 and go to Es Paradis. He said, ‘Only take a half, don’t do it all at once’. Eugh, disgusting this powder. Done it. From when I walked from the bar to the club I started chucking up. My body didn’t know what it was and I’d been drinking loads. Then… I started to feel alright. Ooh, this is great. Ian has a different resistance to drugs than me, and he swallowed the whole lot. He was off!

It was a powder, then?
Never forget it: it was an orange and white capsule. I saw loads of them after that! To tell you the truth, the first one was a bit hazy, but the next one was better. That was late in ’86 and I’d only been there for the weekend.

When you’d done it did you realise, retrospectively, what had been going on in these clubs?
Definitely. Of course. Everything came into the picture. I remember when I went to the Paradise Garage in New York. I was only 17 at the time. Me, Oakey and Paul. We was in there at 1 o’clock. Where is everyone? Three o’clock. Where is everyone?! Went to buy a drink: ‘No, we don’t serve alcohol’. What the fuck’s going in this place. Hung around a bit more and everyone started piling in and then everything just went BANG!. And then it clicked: they’re all on drugs, the whole bloody lot of ‘em! Fucking mad. It’s that gay scene.

And in Ibiza?
It was mainly gay. Mainly.

Gay, mainly.

Where you aware of that straight away?
Oh yeah. I’d worked with people like Steve Strange, you don’t miss much.

You said you met Alfredo through Carlos…
I met Alfredo when I was selling Carlos records. He used to look up to him. But then everybody did. He was the disc jockey. And I could see where Alfredo got that from, I could see where that influence came from.

So Carlos was the granddaddy of that style?
Oh yeah. Carlos left in ’85 he went to work at a place called Tito’s Palace in Majorca. He was there for about three years, and then he left and I lost touch with him. I’d love to find him. I’ve got some friends who live in Majorca who used to see him and they don’t see him no more. I tell you what: top disc jockey. He was the one.

Better than Alfredo?
Well, Alfredo didn’t come on to the scene until ’87, really.

Was Alfredo copying Carlos’ style?
No. He was bringing his own style to it. But that’s where he got the influence from. This is what I like about Alfredo. I used to get a lot of my stuff from Jazzy M in Croydon. In ’87 I went over to Ibiza to work again. I thought right, if I’m going to go over to Spain I need to do something or have something. So we rented a tiny bar in San An. Me and my cousin Ian. It was really hard because you have to have people from Spain involved and special permits.

What about gangsters?
I think there was that stuff, but you’re talking about bigger clubs. With Ku that was definitely some kind of… money. Es Paradis was privately owned and Pacha was. But Ku, definitely. I know that for a fact. I used to know people who used to go there and buy coke over the bar with a credit card. God’s honest truth. And the card was bent! The thing is they knew it was bent, too, but they knew the banks would pay it out. The guy would come round and say meet me in the toilet I’ll sort you out. Everyone on the way back to England would pop into Ku Club, get a couple of T-shirts and fuck off back to England. It was the norm, everyone knew it!

Anyway, your bar…
We rented this bar and called it The Project Club. We changed the name of the club in Streatham to the same, at the same time. The Project Club in San An was already a club downstairs, but we rented the upstairs bar. We set up the sound system. We were just playing music and selling drinks. We used to be packed every single night. Not just packed in the bar, it was packed in the street, too. We’d be meeting people in the clubs, we started selling their T-shirts: Ku, Pacha etc; started selling tickets. So people’d come to us.

Were you the only Brits doing this?
No there was loads. There was a community there. That was a good thing.

Was it still mainly non-Brits.
It had started to change. More and more workers from England. In ’87 about 30-40 percent Brits, but a lot of working Brits there. I was doing the music, Ian was serving the drinks. I was playing all the Chicago stuff mixed in with Prince cos that Sign O The Times album had just come out. But it wasn’t to do with the music in that bar, it was to do with the people. And in the crowd, there was Nancy Noise, a young worker, Lisa Loud. Loads of people used to come over and see us. We had a brilliant time. It was a fantastic summer. That was when Amnesia started to kick in. The music from amnesia is imprinted in my head. It’s like know Alfredo’s set from start to finish. I know it. I know what he’s going to play after this song, I know what he’s going to play after that one. I’ve got a few of his tapes from this period. I could copy them. I know it off by heart. He done the same thing, but it worked. Even though he knew what he was playing, it was brilliant.

What was it he did that was different to Carlos?
I think he was a lot more dancey. The house thing was completely different. When you hear something like Frankie Knuckles’ ‘Your Love’. Fucking hell, just the beginning bit, everyone on E. God almighty, everyone use to go mad to that record. It was a mixture of things; being out there; listening the music. And, you’ve gotta remember that a lot of the people out there was working people. I think Ibiza mainly started with the working people.

Amnesia finished quite late didn’t it?
Yeah. We used to finish at three or four o’clock by the time we’d get out it would be four and we’d go down there. It used to go on till 12. That was when the modern Ibiza started, the old Ibiza, which I knew but not a lot did. That’s when it first started hitting the British scene.

Reflecting upon it now, what’s happened subsequently, do you think we ruined it?
Not necessarily. I don’t think it’s the Brit’s fault, I think it’s the Spanish fault for being too greedy. I don’t think you blame the English, they’re gonna want that experience. I think what’s really fucked it up is it’s too damn expensive.

But didn’t they do that intentionally, though to try and cull numbers?
They knew people would take it.

So it’s a double edged sword for you, really, because ’87 kicked it off, but also killed it, too?
Yeah, it is sad in a way. 1994 was the first year I’d not been. I’ve seen it slowly change. In a way, I was part of making that happen, though!

How did the fabled quartet end up coming over then?
What happened was, it was someone’s birthday, not sure whose, I think it was Paul’s Paul had come over earlier in the season, but he didn’t like it and went back. Anyway, he rang us up again and said he wanted to come out and he wanted to bring Nicky, Johnny, Danny. We found them a place to stay. I said, ‘you’ve gotta come over and see the place, it’s going mental!’

Had you told them about Es?
Not to Danny or the others but to Paul.

Were you going back to England at all?
Yeah, backwards and forwards all the time.

So you’d had a chance to see the whole combination working in Ibiza, of house music and drugs?
Down in London there was only a few places playing it, Eddie Richards, Colin Faver and Mark Moore. And Jazzy M was selling it. But over there, yeah, it was kicking off. When they came over, I took them to the bar. And they were like fucking hell, can’t believe this, which I think was more to do with the staleness in the scene at the time. Then we went to Amnesia. Fucking hell! We was all off on there. Danny Rampling skipping round the room and jumping speakers. Chaos. Wish I had pictures, they’d be worth something now.

What was Nicky doing?
I don’t remember seeing Nicky much that night, but Johnny… Johnny was sitting in a speaker. Danny was jumping up and down. Paul was like ‘I can’t fucking believe this, it’s changed since I’ve last been here!’

And you said, ‘Do you wanna try one of these?’
Oh yeah, I’d give them all one at the bar. I didn’t want to say too much, I just said, ‘Try this, it don’t do too much to you’ [laughter]. That was it. Came back and started to do things with Paul.

When you came back didn’t you try and replicate the Ibiza vibe in Streatham?
We was doing that. But it wasn’t the same type of vibe. It was the music. It was okay, but a lot of our crowd there was still out in Ibiza.

So it was starting to work?
Yeah. But it was different still.

How or when did someone bring Es into the UK for the first time?
Straight away. Not from Ibiza, from Holland. I know someone who supplied.

How long did it take you to get something together?
Not long at all. At the time I used to go and see Colin Faver, he was playing at Delirium on a Thursday at Heaven and they were thinking of stopping. They offered us next door, Soundshaft. Spectrum started after Christmas.

How involved were you in Spectrum or was it Paul’s baby?
Nothing to do with Paul. It was Ian St Paul’s club. Ian ran Future as well. Paul was only doing the music side of it.

Where were you?
I was doing music.

Is it true you brought Alfredo over to the Project Club?

How did that go?
It went really well, but it was small, very small. We did it a few times. It wasn’t the same atmosphere as, say, Spectrum or Future. It was more local.

What was the night where there was a decent supply of Es in a club in London?
We’d tried to get in this club and it had fallen through. And we all went up to Babylon something [Thursday night, vague memory on this]. Anyway this guy had a load of Es lined up. But we didn’t have no party lined up so we had to go to someone else’s. It was quite funny seeing these kids like this… I thought, I don’t think London’s ever seen this before! All the gays in the club going, what the fuck?! Heaven was the ideal place for us to start Spectrum and Future, because it was a gay club. We’d mustered up about 250 people from the summer, said we was gonna put on a party, but then it fell through. So instead of putting it off we went to Babylon wotsit. Brilliant night. Everyone dancing funny. What does this look like: fucking hell. The club owner, Paul Churchill, came to us, and we said we wanna do something straight away and the next week we was doing Future. So Thursday became Future and Monday was Spectrum. I worked with Kevin Millins at Rage which opened at the same time.

The story Oakey tells is it wasn’t that good for the first few weeks.
No it wasn’t. It was slow, but then a month later you couldn’t get in there. We had kids coming from everywhere.

How did they find about it?
Word of mouth. You see, all the [Ibiza] workers, they’d come from everywhere: Aberdeen, Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds. They’d get people together and they’d come down. At the time we had a lot of northerners. They weren’t all London kids. It grew from a core of about 200 and expanded from there.

Danny said you gave the name for Shoom.
Yeah. There was a friend of mine from Wolverhampton who always used to say it and I picked it up from him.

What was the difference between Shoom and Spectrum?
Smaller and more select. You know Heaven, just trying to get 1500 people through that door on a Monday, you can’t afford to pick and choose. I did like Shoom. I did the first ever one there. That bloody smoke machine! Then Nicky did The Trip and he really took it to the masses then. Saturday night.

Was it easy to find those Balearic tunes?
Well there was a couple of Spanish things that were hard to find, but I got hold of them. There was another James Brown sounding thing Enzo something. That was really hard to find. That’s when Pete Tong came up and asked me to do the Balearic Beats album.

Do you think Alfredo’s something of a forgotten figure in dance music, given what a massive influence he’s had on UK club culture.
I think he is, but it was the Brits that made it happen.

Yes, but Paul Oakenfold lives in a $2.5 mansion in LA and Alfredo is living in obscurity. It’s about context.
No I agree with you. Most people like him never are remembered. To tell you the truth, I thought I was the catalyst for a lot of this stuff. The to-ing and fro-ing and so on. Keeping it going, trying to make it work.

Looking back, what would you describe as the thing you brought?
Well, the reason I went out there in the first place was because I thought it was too stuffy here, the clubs, the people, the music. With Ibiza, it’s changed people’s ideas of clubbing, to certain extremes, admittedly, but it’s changed the way you go out and the way you enjoy yourself.

So what’s the bad thing?
Too many drugs. Out of control. Drugs are for enjoying yourself at the club. It was mad back then, though, I was doing Energy, Sunrise all of those. I was doing five gigs on a Friday, six on a Saturday. I remember going home to see my mum and she said, ‘Trev, you don’t do any of these drugs and play music to these crazed people do you?’ ‘No, come on mum, don’t be so stupid’. Anyway, at that same time there was a news flash and they were talking about acid house and they scanned in on the disc jockey and I’m standing there DJing!

Did she see you?
Course she did!

Did you feel a little bit proud to see all of this happening?
I didn’t really look at it like that, but I was glad to see it there. It was a shame to see Ibiza go the way it did, but then I liked Ibiza the way it was… mixed feelings. I go two or three times to Ibiza each year and I play with Paul at closing party at Pacha which I’ve been doing for the last four years. I do my deep house thing and then he does his trance thing.

What was it like doing those outdoor parties?

What were the more memorable ones?
Sunrise in Oxfordshire. Brilliant. 20,000 people. I’d done about four gigs that night and I got down there and I was coming on at 7.30 in the morning. I remember standing there, with three juggernauts, two with speakers either side of the one in the middle with mixing desks and decks. I went all the way round and I remember that feeling of putting on the first record. I stopped all the music. I put on Kariya’s ‘Let Me Love For Tonight’. You’d think people would be dying at that time in the morning, but everyone just went mental. Brilliant moment. I know how rock stars feel now. Carl Cox was on acid at that thing. I never even realised he did drugs. He was falling all over the place! ‘Carl do you do drugs?!’ Oh my God! There were some bad times, too. When all the gangsters and the serious drugs came into it, it killed it.

There must have been gangsters in it before.
Yeah, but on a different level, though.

How quickly did that creep in?
Didn’t take long. Certain ones were plainly set up with that in mind.

Is it true that some of the ICF were out in Ibiza in the first place, so they were on it in the first place?
Yeah. They were well on it.

Were they fairly benign?
Yeah. I remember I was doing Energy in West London, I think it was, and I’m walking in and there are people going ‘Es, Es, do you want Es?’. Fuck that, it ain’t nice. It’s always gonna happen. I used to get gigs, and there’d be plastic bags full of money on the floor and they’d go: ‘just go and help yourself’. Seriously! Then there’d be other times, and I’d go, ‘Look I need to get off, I’ve got another gig. Just to pick up my money.’ And there’d be a big bouncer there, and he’d pull his jacket aside to show me his gun. And I’d go, ‘Just tell him I need the money, alright?’ That was at Linford Studios. There was this other one I did in Ripon, north of Leeds, big outdoor thing, and I had to do another one in Hull afterwards. I stuck a record on and the promoter came up to me and said, ‘Listen everyone’s turned him down, but we need to put this act on now’ I said, ‘Who is it?’ ‘It’s Orville and Keith Harris’. So I played two records, went to the office collected £700 and drove over to Hull for the next gig!

© Bill Brewster & Frank Broughton